AGGRESSION ON AFGHANISTAN 425
to give some account of the general position in Central
Asia. There is no doubt that both Russia and Great
Britain at this period were animated—in Asia, at any rate
—by feelings of mutual hostility ; the interests of the
two empires were conceived to be antagonistic, although
Russia had not annexed Khiva and the frontier of
British India was the Sutlej.
Russian victories over Persia had incited the defeated
power to recover her prestige elsewhere, and this very
natural desire was encouraged by her former enemy. It
was realized on the banks of the Neva that if Persia
obtained possession of Herat she would probably take
Kabul and Kandahar also. In this case Russian influence
would penetrate Afghanistan without any effort on her
part, whereas a heavy strain would be thrown on Great
Britain to meet the demands of the new situation. If,
on the other hand, Great Britain intervened to save
Herat, she would be thwarting the natural and just
ambitions of Persia and would thereby drive her to lean
entirely on Russia. It must not be supposed that Abbas
Mirza intended to affront Great Britain by an invasion
of Afghanistan. To him it seemed only right that ancient
provinces of Persia should be won back, and it is im-
possible not to sympathize with his aspirations.
The Siege of Herat and the Death of Abbas Mirza, 1833.
—Herat was at this period held as an independent princi-
pality by Kamran Mirzay son of Mahmud Shah, His
Vizier, the astute Yar Mohamed Khan, proceeded on a
mission to the Persian heir-apparent, and was informed
by him that unless his master acknowledged the authority
of the Shah and paid tribute Herat would be besieged.
Kamran Mirza sent back an evasive reply and it was
thereupon decided to undertake an Afghan campaign.
Abbas Mirza was summoned to Court, and the
military command was given to Mohamed Mirza^ who
advanced on Ghorian. Unable to capture that strong-
hold, he left it in his rear and invested Herat. Aided
by a Polish officer named Berovski, the young Prince
was pressing forward the siege when news was received
of the death of Abbas Mirzay whose premature decease